It’s no surprise that the Yankees will be looking to improve the team’s starting rotation at the trading deadline. Brian Cashman admitted as much when he failed to add another arm in the offseason. Unfortunately, as things currently sit, it’s hard to see how the Yankees will manage to add a better option than they have now without giving up their best pieces in return. Instead of looking outside the organization, the Yankees may have to focus on their internal options, namely Adam Warren.
Outside of Luis Severino, everyone in the Yankees rotation is in question. Sonny Gray has been terrible and Masahiro Tanaka has been wildly inconsistent. CC Sabathia has done well so far, but it’s natural to wonder how much longer he can keep this up at the age of 37. Jordan Montgomery is hurt and might not be capable of duplicating his rookie season. This leaves the team in need of another arm, but it’s hard to consider who would be an effective replacement. No one seems to be ready at the minor league level, and while pending free agents Patrick Corbin and Gio Gonzalez may seem like obvious targets, their teams will need them to compete in 2018.
After assessing all the possible alternatives, it feels like the best option the Yankees have left is to transition Adam Warren back into a starting pitcher. Though he’s proven to be a useful reliever over the span of his career, the Yankees don’t exactly need him when they have the likes of Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Chad Green on the backend. If Tommy Kahnle can return to form when he is activated off the disabled list, Warren will effectively have no clear role on the team. Solid middle relief might be nice, but the Yankees need solid starting pitching more.
After coming up as a starter, Warren was mostly used out of the bullpen in his first few years in the big leagues. It wasn’t until the 2015 season that he was actually given substantial work as a starting pitcher. In 17 starts that year, Warren provided the Yankees with a 3.66 ERA, while keeping batters in the park and generating weak contact. It was here that the right-hander proved to be a valuable piece on the roster. His ability to pitch out of the rotation or the bullpen produced arguably his best season with a 2.2 WAR.
Warren’s true value, though, was as a pitcher who could be trusted to perform no matter the role he is given. In the face of injury, it meant that he was the perfect option for a team that didn’t have much waiting at the minor league level. However, a healthier rotation and effective bullpen performances eventually led to Warren’s permanent role as a reliever. Now in 2018, with the rotation held together by a thread, it seems like the perfect time to give him another chance.
Under normal circumstances, it would be difficult to stretch Warren out as a starter in the middle of the season. However, Warren is currently on the disabled list and won’t be back until the beginning of June. When it’s time to get him into minor league rehab games, it might be a good idea for the Yankees to stretch him out as a starter. That way when he’s ready to be activated, the team will have another option if Domingo German can’t hold up or Jordan Montgomery isn’t healthy.
A lot of hope is being put in the idea that Cashman can find some magical pitcher to make everything better, but someone like that might be difficult to find this summer. Instead, Adam Warren offers an interesting alternative that the Yankees would be crazy not to at least explore. Given the fact that he’ll be a free agent for the first time after this season, he would probably welcome the opportunity to improve his stock.